In our home town, indeed in Cumbria as a whole, it can be difficult to get hold of some of the more esoteric culinary ingredients. I have recently developed a liking for green tea. I have for a long time liked szechuan pepper for use in various dishes. When we visited Manchester for IndyManBeerCon we had a look around China Town for such items.
And this is why I was sat opposite Yvan Seth with a carrier bag full of such items. "Are they for your next brew?" he asked "No, just for domestic supplies" I replied "Although......"
It was one of those moments. I had been looking for something a little different for Rhetoric III for a while, but couldn't think of anything that hadn't been done before. OK, green tea has been used, and pepper in beer is not entirely new. But green tea and szechuan pepper...... that was worthy of thought.
I seem to remember that I possibly feigned disinterest in the idea, fearful that Yvan might take the idea away and apply it elsewhere before I had a chance to implement it.
However, a couple of weeks ago, armed with 5kg of green tea and 1kg of said peppercorns we made a great big wort of around 11301 - we're not entirely sure as our hydrometers can't get up this high. Cutting the wort with water to get into range leaves me with an amount of doubt as to it's accuracy of measurement.
This wort is now, as I type, down to less than 1050, and the yeast is showing signs of weakness at the approximately 11.5% ABV already attained. There should be some fermentables left in there so it's time for a packet of champagne yeast to keep it going. Besides, we're going to dump some glucose in there too, should get above 13% I hope, making a new Hardknott record for ABV.
Never mind ABV, whilst that is important, taste and aroma was what I was looking for. It's an IPA style beer. Normally at these alcohol concentrations I use a Belgian yeast, as it seems to do well. However, I wanted a cleaner flavour. Using a regular American Ale yeast should do the trick, but I had never gone this high with such a strain.
So far, although still mucky and heavy with yeast, the beer has a surprisingly clean favour. A hint of spice but none of that estery thing going on. No bananas or cloves. Good IPA feel, if a little lacking in bitterness. But the aroma is heaven. The pepper is perhaps understated, but there and somehow seems to lift the green tea to new delights. And a nice tingle on the lips.
The tingle is interesting, and I might just get into trouble for pointing out the Interesting stimulant effect it might have.
This beer, Rhetoric III, should be ready before the end of January. Look out for it.
1Yes, you are right, you can't extract sugar from either green tea or peppercorns. We did use malt, and malt extract and quite a bit of sugar too.